Straight from Your Dermatologist
How many times have we heard the old saying “If you don’t wash your face often, you’ll get pimples”? Or even some crazy ones like “To spare you from the curse of teenage acne, wash your face with your first monthly menstrual period”?
By Ma. Cricelda M. Rescober-Valencia, FPDS
Acne vulgaris is bothersome enough as it is without having to deal with the false information we get from our peers and on the internet. As they say, half the battle against an enemy is to understand it and know its nature. With that in mind, let us shed light on some of the myths about this often misunderstood skin disease.
Myth 1: Acne will clear faster if you wash or scrub your face often.
It has been scientifically proven that acne is not because of poor hygiene and that frequent washing will not prevent it from occurring. Acne is caused by accumulation of dead skin cells and increased sebum or oil production which support the growth of a specific bacterium called Cutibacterium acnes. This results in plugging of the follicles and inflammation. Overwashing can actually lead to unnecessary drying of the skin and irritation.
Instead of scrubbing your skin, dermatologists advise washing your face gently with a mild, pH-balanced and fragrance-free cleanser twice a day and rinsing off the cleanser using warm – not hot- water.
Myth 2: Acne will resolve on its own once the teenage years are over.
Let’s face it. Acne has always been a part of our existence and that it commonly rears its ugly head during adolescence. It is true that it gradually gets better with age but some can still develop acne well into their 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s. Furthermore, some of those who have had little acne when they were teenagers can develop severe acne once they become adults. Once you get acne, it is important to initiate treatment because it can prevent your condition from developing into painful cysts and even deep scarring.
Myth 3: Blackheads are caused by dirt trapped in your pores.
We have already established that dirt does not cause acne. Blackheads occur when your pores become clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. The black color is produced when what’s clogging your pores gets exposed to air.
Myth 4: Wearing makeup causes acne breakouts.
Applying makeup is fun and no one should ever be deprived of doing so. When choosing your makeup, look for the following words: non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, and oil-free. These mean that the product is less likely to clog your pores. Another tip is to clean your makeup brushes at least once a week to prevent new breakouts and worsening of existing ones.
Myth 5: Squeezing your pimples can hasten treatment.
Hold your horses! Even if you see a pimple about to pop, refrain from squeezing it. Manipulating your acne may make it more noticeable and prone to infection. Even worse, it can lead to permanent acne scars.
Myth 6: Acne-prone skin does not need moisturizing.
Moisturizing the skin maintains the integrity of its barrier function and is vital for good skin health. Contrary to popular belief, even oily skin needs moisturizing as excess oils do not equate to effective skin hydration. Dermatologists recommend using a light gel-based or cream moisturizer that is non-comedogenic to prevent plugging of pores.
Myth 7: You can stop your acne treatments once your skin clears up.
Good job on winning the fight against acne! To maintain clear skin, you still need to treat the acne that might still be looming beneath the surface. This can be done by using acne-friendly skin care products everyday and consulting your dermatologist from time to time especially when you keep breaking out. Your dermatologist can also advise when you can safely stop treatment.
Myth 8: Some acne medications work so well they can cure your acne in 1 week.
A product that claims it can cure acne in 1 week or (gasp!) overnight is just pulling your leg. The truth is acne treatment takes 4 to 8 weeks to work. So do not be disheartened when the medication you are applying does not seem to make a difference YET.
Myth 9: Acne is just acne. Just deal with it.
Acne is a disease that is easily visible to the eye. But what others cannot see are the significant emotional and psychological burden it comes with. Patients may suffer from permanent scarring, poor self-image, embarrassment, ridicule, anxiety, and even depression. That is why it is important to start treatment early on to prevent these unfortunate complications.
There’s a lot of formation available regarding acne. From old wives’ tale to home remedies we may read up on the internet, it can be confusing at times what to believe. As dermatologists, it is our mission to help you in separating fact from fiction and in your journey to healthy, clear skin.